Mali's junta names newcomers to strategic positions

AFP , Wednesday 2 Sep 2020

Assimi Goita
File Photo: Colonel Assimi Goita speaks to the press at the Malian Ministry of Defence in Bamako, Mali (AFP)

Mali's junta has named a new army chief of staff and appointed people to other key army and security posts, weeks after seizing power, according to decrees published Wednesday.

General Oumar Diarra is named chief of the general staff of the armed forces in a decree dated September 1 and signed by the junta's leader, Colonel Assimi Goita.

He replaces General Abdoulaye Coulibaly at the head of an army which has lost hundreds of men in the last few years fighting jihadists, despite the support of French, international and UN troops.

Coulibaly is still being detained by the junta along with several other high-ranking and leading political figures arrested during the August 18 coup that overthrew president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Keïta is under house arrest, with limited access to the internet and telephone while being denied visitors, according to the former president's entourage.

The new chief of staff is considered "an honest and rigorous" man, according to military sources.

His main duty will be to "reform the Malian army and permit it to defend the country," a junta official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The junta has also carried out a series of replacements in sensitive positions: Colonel Lassana Doumbia becomes director general of state security (intelligence, Colonel Jean Dao is now chief of staff of the national guard, which is part of the army, and General Souleymane Doucoure becomes secretary general of the Defence Ministry.

General Doucoure, formerly the air force chief of staff, was questioned after the coup.

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